Two-Person Teams - REWORK Podcast

Two-Person Teams - REWORK Podcast

Jun 2, 2023

If you've been following along with the podcast, you've heard the mention of two-person teams and how 37signals makes the most of its software features and productivity with just two people working together—one programmer and one designer.

In this episode of the Rework podcast, 37signals co-founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson sit down with Kimberly Rhodes to dive deeper into the concept of two-person teams and share valuable insights on the benefits, challenges, and strategies behind their unique approach.

Listen in as Jason and David share the importance of short-term cycles, the significance of building their own tools for maximum efficiency, and how these principles shape their company's operations. They also discuss the expansion of two-person teams into other areas of the organization and the limitations of working as a team of one.

Tune in to discover how the power of two can revolutionize teamwork and productivity.

Show Notes:
[00:00] - Today, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson are here to discuss the concept of smaller teams and how two-person teams are effective at 37signals.
[00:48] - Jason shares that initially, teams at 37signals had three people, including two programmers and one designer, and why they changed to two people on each six-week cycle project.
[01:33] - The constraint of having two people is not a resource issue but rather an opportunity to tighten project scopes and prioritize ideas. Direct communication between the programmer and designer eliminates translation layers and allows for efficient progress.
[02:14] - How the direct collaboration of two-person teams sharing the same workspace enables rapid progress.
[02:53] - David shares how working with web technologies improves two-person teams' efficiency and helps avoid delays caused by platform approvals or updates.
[03:49] - The significant advantage for 37signals is that it eliminates the need for conversions.
[04:44] - Enhancing the bandwidth between the two team members by removing obstacles and maximizing direct communication—how 37signals realized that having five programmers for Basecamp was too many.
[05:40] - Blowing the minds of startups who think they need an army of programmers—the secrets of 37signals' productivity.
[06:31] - New members easily integrate into the productive system, proving that anyone can embrace this approach.
[06:45] - Two-person team pairings at 37signals are flexible—some stay together, some don't.
[09:06] - Embracing the freedom of the two-person team approach by setting aside daily stand-ups and rigid check-ins in favor of a balance of oversight and support without unnecessary bureaucracy.
[10:19] - The secret behind 37signals' unique management approach—how management, driven by processes rather than people, creates a more efficient work environment.
[11:10] - How a simple set of questions and a six-week feature cycle can provide clarity while evaluating progress and fostering trust within the team.
[12:48] - A drop of product management is all you need to drive success.
[14:31] - How traditional software development approaches and large teams lead to excessive long-term planning, misguided processes, and massive hirings and firings.
[16:02] - Challenging the status quo with smaller, nimble projects for greater success.
[17:07] - Unlike industry giants, 37signals is focused on speed and efficiency.
[19:05] - David shares the difference between producing something final instead of “a long conveyor belt of partial feature implementations that get put behind feature flags, and you have the proliferation of half-done work that has never moved off the plate.”
[21:07] - Jason shares one of the biggest mistakes in business—what promises really get you (hint: it’s not to your targets).
[22:59] - Unlike traditional growth models, 37signals embraces the philosophy of "hire when it hurts."
[24:32] - The delicate balance between efficiency and redundancy! The crucial factors to consider when building sustainable teams
[27:09] - We love doing the “Ask Me Anything” shows. If you have a question for David and Jason about running a business, leave a voicemail at 708-628-7850 or email us with questions to have it answered on an upcoming episode.

Links and Resources:
Do you have a question for Jason and David? Leave us a voicemail at 708-628-7850 or email us
Jason Fried - HEY World:
David Heinemeier Hansson - HEY World:
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